SLCLS Genre Study discussion

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Sci Fi Subgenres > Utopia/Dystopia

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message 1: by YoSafBridg (new)

YoSafBridg | 20 comments A utopia is paradise; it is a place that embodies perfection. Utopia is realized, in Science Fiction, when humanity become sufficiently advanced that war and other unpleasant things are no longer needed or technology has dispensed with all things unpleasant in society.
Not all Utopian stories are Sci-Fi, some are only social and political explorations of society. Utopian fiction becomes Sci-Fi when the advancement of scientific knowledge transforms society. A true Utopia is rather boring--what's a story without conflict, if everything is perfect how can there be any kind of rising action or resolution? As such, most Utopian Sci-Fi stories incorporate elements of Dystopian Science Fiction.
The Giver (The Giver #1) by Lois Lowry The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5) by Ursula K. Le Guin Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
Can you think of any Utopian Science Fiction that starts out as a Utopia and remains Utopian?


Dystopian Science Fiction can be summed up as the opposite of Utopia—imperfect societies in the near-future. In actuality, Dystopian Sci-Fi stories often include Utopian elements like deep social control. These measures of control are taken to the extreme in Dystopian Sci-Fi. Often, Dystopian stories deal with political issues like police states and repression. The value of Dystopian Sci-Fi is not that it predicts what will happen, but what we fear will happen and investigates whether these fears are valid or destructive in of themselves.
The Iron Heel by Jack London A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess We  by Yevgeny Zamyatin Brave New World by Aldous Huxley The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins


message 2: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Shidler | 25 comments I love reading dystopian stories and never really thought about them as Sci-Fi but now I can see the scientific elements. I enjoyed reading the Office of Mercy as a Readers choice though I felt the ending was terrible!


message 3: by Ashley Baker (new)

Ashley Baker (schlee25) I tried reading the Office of Mercy but didn't really get into it. Dystopian fiction is one of my favorite things to read- 1984, Handmaids Tale. Ive never read Ursula K LeGuin; Im going to give The Dispossessed a try!


message 4: by YoSafBridg (new)

YoSafBridg | 20 comments There are quite a few Dystopian novels that make little use of science & technology, either because technology has been destroyed, or because the protagonist is rebelling against the technology that has created the Dystopia.


message 5: by YoSafBridg (new)

YoSafBridg | 20 comments Atwood has resisted the suggestion that The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake (and, by extension, The Year of the Flood) are science fiction, suggesting to The Guardian that they are speculative fiction instead: "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen." She told the Book of the Month Club: "Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians." On BBC Breakfast she explained that science fiction, as opposed to what she herself wrote, was "talking squids in outer space." The latter phrase particularly rankled advocates of science fiction and frequently recurs when her writing is discussed."

Our system shelves her with general fiction, but she has won several Science Fiction awards. The Handmaid's Tale seems like obvious dystopian fiction, while Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood both seem to be set in the same Post-Apocalyptic world.

What do you think?
Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1) by Margaret Atwood The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2) by Margaret Atwood


message 6: by Paul (last edited Jun 01, 2014 12:53AM) (new)

Paul Spencer | 9 comments YoSafBridg wrote: "Can you think of any Utopian Science Fiction that starts out as a Utopia and remains Utopian?"
Yes, I think so, in Tanith Lee's Don't Bite the Sun / Drinking Sapphire Wine (though I think I read them as a combination called Biting the Sun).

Basically the society keeps going on as a utopia for most of its residents, even though a few of them leave to live on their own in the wastelands. Or does that not technically count, since the utopia wasn't perfect for everyone?


message 7: by YoSafBridg (new)

YoSafBridg | 20 comments I think that would probably count, the conflict is still about the individual vs. society. I've never read that particular one--although it has been on my to-read list for quite some time.


message 8: by Whuffaker (new)

Whuffaker | 18 comments So, having not gone to the genre study, that Little Brother by my friend Cory Doctorow is Dystopian? It is this century's 1984 and a fiction manual for freedom of speech et. al. privacy. It is also one of the first one of Cory's books I could mostly understand as he is too smart for me to process. I loved chatting with him about subversive NSA plots, that was my wavelength.


message 9: by YoSafBridg (new)

YoSafBridg | 20 comments I believe it could be considered dystopian.


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